The first thing I don’t want to write down here is the scenario that will land you in panic and anxiety. Because, I assume that after waiting for almost a month or so, you got your visa, and you might want to party, meet your relatives, and fulfill the deals your mom made with the gods and goddesses (‘I will do this if my son/daughter gets visa approved’). Let it all sink-in mate.
Getting to the point, you are going to fly abroad, start a life in Europe, and these trains of thoughts draw-in the questions like ‘what are the essentials I have to buy for Italy, now?’
Well, I/we all have been there, it was a mess. So, here is a breakdown with the proper headings talking about everything you have to get before taking your couple of flights, dragging the super-heavy bags to Italy. Let us start over with the basics:
Because food comes first. Remember, whatever house you are going to rent here, they’re most probably fully-furnished. From a weird wine-opener to the coasters for your cup, the landlord will offer you everything beforehand. But, mate, assuming that you are an Indian, I’d very much suggest you get your cute electric rice cooker while coming.
A mixer-grinder is not very necessary, but if you find a handy one, it would be great. If you are a dosa-person, you can get a non-stick light-weight tawa. To cook dal, or boil something, you can get a tiny pressure cooker (I haven’t seen this anywhere in the shops here, this is completely optional).
If you are used to the steelware in the kitchen, try getting two steel plates and a steel glass (only if you are not used to the ceramic plates. I have clumsy hands, so I’d always go for the steel ones). Now that we are done with the kitchenware, let us jump into the basic food supplies you might need for the first 10-15 days.
BASIC FOOD- SPICES, RICE, ETC…
I assume that you will be coming here with no idea about where to buy what, especially about Indian food (spices, powders, and rice, etc). You must remember that every Italian town or a city has at least one or more stores/supermarkets that are run by Pakistanis or Indians, and they will have almost everything ready for you. From the gulab jamun packets to the biryani leaves, you can most possibly find everything in one place for almost the same to double price. Well, rice is an exception. You can buy basmati for almost the same price.
Anyway, for the first 10-15 days abroad, you should try meeting your food-needs using the supplies you got from home. Try getting a 100grams of all the spices, powders that are necessary. And maybe 2-3 kilos of rice. Maybe 1 Kg Dal. Get a couple of your favorite pickles (make sure you choose the airport-packing).
You can ask your mom to make some custom-made powders for your long stay here. I would suggest you get these custom-made powders in larger quantities.
MAGGIIIIIIII. I remember seeing a tiny Maggi sachet for 3 euros (which is like 10 rupees in India, TF IS THAT!!!). And, for spicy food lovers, drop a couple of Haldirams of your choice in your trolley. You may stumble upon some similar snacks in the supermarkets, but man! nothing’s spicy here, not for our hot tongues.
Anyway, listen to your mom! Get all the Indian home-made snacks she wants for you.
Before jumping into the list, first, check all your chargers, if they’re functioning properly. You can find anything here at the Chinese stores, but you can’t expect the best quality for what you pay.
Primarily, get Two big-fat universal-adaptors (one branded, and another, the normal cheaper one), a spike to connect around 4-5 devices at the same time. You can check the pictures here:
Assuming that you are buying a new smartphone after getting your VISA Approved, don’t ditch your old one. I suggest a back-up phone. Get a couple of right-chargers, a set of earphones, and if you can afford it, go for a Bluetooth headset which isn’t much expensive nowadays. A good power bank, and a handy Bluetooth speaker for the fine evenings.
Since the winters are long here, try getting a light-weight hair-dryer, an iron box.
Do not spend loads of money on buying branded shirts and trousers, the same applies to women. You are coming here right in the middle of winters, get one normal jacket at first. Within one month of being here, you can walk into the H&M or ZARA stores and buy your fat jackets at almost the same price in India, or cheaper. I repeat, do not spend money on jackets in India, save some space in your trollies, you can put an extra Maggi packet instead.
I would suggest you get just a couple of shirts and pants, because, with all the winter clothing on you, you can barely remember what you are wearing inside. In time, you can buy them here at the same cost. Maybe you can get a kurta, and some traditional clothes, because it feels great putting them on at the cultural fests at the University. Dear women, make note of this, your giant jumkas, and the 6-yeard sarees are going to take the men off their feet here.
A nice bath towel, handkerchiefs (or you can switch to tissues here). Two-bed sheets, pillow covers. Don’t get any big blankets or comforters, you can buy nice ones here, or if you are lucky enough, your landlord will give you one. Some essential inner-garments is mandatory.
Winters are harsh, especially the December and January. So, get two pairs of thermals. Get a pair of nice shoes, you better focus on the thickness, rather than the fancy looks, some sets of socks, preferably woolen. Because you can’t shiver and swag your shoes at the same time. A pair of flipflops for regular use (you might get some weird looks if you are walking around the streets in flip-flops during the winters).
Get five copies of every important ID and documents while coming. Around 40 Passport sized pictures (check the VISA dimensions of the photos), note down all your passwords and PINS somewhere safely. A proper Forex card, with Internet banking, is very important. You can keep your Indian number functioning so that you don’t have to call your parents for the OTPs.
Also, have the scanned copies of all your documents like passport, VISA, admission letter, student IDs, and some important Indian documents. Keep them on your phones. Make note that when a local cop asks for your documents while you are taking a casual walk on the streets, don’t take it wrong. Italy has lots of immigrants who sneak into the country unofficially. So, the authorities like to keep a check, it is quite normal.
You may forget carrying your passport every day, so a soft copy on your tiny phone can save you some time.
From what I know, the sanitary pads you can get here are quite different. Since it is a matter of comfort, get a lot of sanitary pads of your choice. Usually, the pads you find here are without wings, so, it is up to you.
Some more women essentials include an epilator because waxing is expensive here. A hair straightener (optional), all the cosmetics. Deodorants and perfumes are cheap here.
Load some money in your forex card, have some cash, if possible coins too. I got around 1300 euros on my forex while coming here, and 500 euros cash. It was more than enough for me until the time I got my ERGO scholarship.
Check the benefits offered by the multiple banks on their forex cards, choose wisely. I use HDFC, and I guess it is good. Some of my friends went for Axis and SBI.
NETWORK/ SIM CARD
Vodafone and Airtel have like one-week International packs, you can opt for one until you get your Italian number. Getting a SIM card here will not take more than an hour. And, don’t freak out if you have any network issues after landing at the airport, they have good WiFi access.
I use the TIM network here in Italy, but I suggest you go with Vodafone for its low cost and better Internet data. You have to pay 20 Euros for the SIM card activation, then 10 Euros a month that will include: 300 minutes to India, 600 minutes in Europe, and 50 GB data per month.
They have one-euro stores here, you can buy some good notebooks and pens there, at a considerably affordable price. Limit your stationary baggage as much as you can.
Your insurance here will cover most of your medical expenses. But take a safe side, since we are used to some medicines in India, get a couple of sheets of each, with the doctor’s prescription (in case you are questioned at the airport).
As I said, winters are harsh, and you might experience some hair fall, so get some relevant tablets. Try getting some Calcium, Multi-Vitamin, and Iron tablets while coming. The summers are tough too, so maybe you can get rashes, drop a couple of itch guards in your bag. Some pain balms and sprays like Volini are preferred.
For women, some intimate care supplies are suggested.
A beard oil (not easy to find everywhere), good hair oil, a Phillips or a Panasonic trimmer (try checking out Amazon or Flipkart for this), a good hair oil (coconut oil is not common here).
Anyway, here’s a PDF of the essential things you have to pack for your long academic stay in Italy. You can download the file here with one click. Feel free to share this with your friends and fellow students flying to Italy. Good luck!
Further details about Women’s essentials, flight tickets, and ‘the things you shouldn’t buy’ will be mentioned in detail in the following blog stories.
If you have anything else to ask or inquire, feel free to drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this blog, I will be writing my backpacking stories across Europe. Most of my trips are super-budget friendly. Relax, take a bite of your pasta, sip your wine, you will get there.
You can reach out to me on Instagram at @thedopepoet